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125th anniversary – An inspiring female role model

24 October 2013

Catherine Smith studied BSc Science from 1973, graduating from Dundee College of Technology in 1976, the institution which became Abertay University in 1994.

Here she shares the important role of Miss Ruth Gray, her personal tutor who proved a strong role model as a female scientist and a compassionate educator.

Miss Gray is seated in the front row, second from the left 

“Miss Ruth Gray was one of my biology lecturers, and I was surprised and amazed a few years ago to find a photo from 1961 in an Abertay anniversary book, as she was the only woman there. This completely took me aback, as I hadn't realised she was such a trail blazer.

“I confess that at the time it did not even occur to me to think that I needed to have a strong role model, who also happened to be female, in the field of science. I honestly thought that both males and females were equally entitled to study and work in science, or anything else for that matter.

“Her importance as a female role model has increased for me as my working life has progressed. She was hardworking, forthright, caring and with a firm belief in the value of education.

“She was an example of dedication, honesty and frankness, even though I think she was quite shy by nature. She taught me to speak up for myself, although I think she despaired of me ever being able to do it.

“She obviously loved birds and plants for themselves as well as for their scientific value, something I valued. She also had an endearing eccentric quality, which I rather aspire to!

Catherine at work  

“Today I work in archaeology, having been an 'archaeozoologist' since 1980. I identify animal remains from Scottish archaeological sites, as part of the process of interpreting the ancient environment.

“I work on all chronological periods, from the Mesolithic to the Post-medieval. I also have a strong interest in community education and spend a lot of time doing 'hands-on' events at local museums.

“As well as that I'm on the Tayside and Fife Archaeological Committee and Abertay Historical Society's Council, where I help edit our publications.

“Recently I was involved in editing a series of long-awaited publications on the Perth High Street excavations, a project which has run almost the length of my career in archaeology.”

Catherine’s work has been widely published, with a selection including:

Smith, C 2012 ‘The bird bone’ in Johnson, M and Cameron, K An Early Bronze Age unenclosed cremation cemetery and Mesolithic pit at Skilmafilly, near Maud, Aberdeenshire. Scottish Archaeological Internet Reports 53.

Hodgson, G W I, Smith C and Jones, A 2011 ‘The mammal bone’, in Hodgson, G W I et al The Perth High Street Archaeological Excavation 1975 1977. Living and Working in a Medieval Scottish Burgh. Environmental remains and miscellaneous finds. Fascicule 4, 5 44. Tayside and Fife Archaeological Committee, Perth.

Smith, C 2008 ‘The bird bone’, in James, H F and Yeoman, P Excavations at St Ethernan’s Monastery, Isle of May, Fife 1992–7, 93–7. (=Tayside Fife Archaeol Monogr 6). Perth.

Hall, D W and Smith, C 2006 ‘Medieval archaeology’, in Harris, B and MacDonald, A R Scotland the Making and Unmaking of the Nation c1100–1707. Vol 1, 139–157. Dundee University Press/The Open University in Scotland. Dundee.

Smith, C 2006 ‘Animals’, in Storrier, S (ed) Scottish Life and Society. A Compendium of Scottish Ethnology, Vol 6. Scotland’s Domestic Life, 581–96. John Donald/The European Ethnological Research Centre/National Museums of Scotland.

Smith, C 2000 ‘A Grumphie in the Sty: an archaeological view of pigs in Scotland’, Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 130 (2000), 705–724.

Smith, C 2000 ‘The animal bone’, in Perry, D R Castle Park, Dunbar. Two Thousand Years on a Fortified Headland. (Soc of Antiq Scot Monogr Ser 16), 194–297. Edinburgh.

Smith, C 1998 ‘Dogs, cats and horses in the Scottish medieval town’, Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 128, (1998), 859–85.

Smith, C 1995 ‘The animal bone’, in Bowler, D, Cox, A and Smith, C 1995 (eds) ‘Four excavations in Perth 1979-1984’, Proc Soc Antiq Scot 125 (1995), 986–9.

Smith, C and Hodgson, G W I 1994 ‘Animal bone report’, in Ballin Smith, B (ed) Howe: four millennia of Orkney prehistory. Soc Antiq Scot Monogr 9. Edinburgh. 139–53.

Smith, C and Hodgson, G W I 1987 ‘Animal bone’, in Holdsworth, P (ed) Excavations in Medieval Perth 1979 1981, Soc Antiq Scot Monogr 5, 196–9. Edinburgh

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